While working in an office is probably the most common working path in our current knowledge economy, it doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone.
Take my five year old, for example. He is the most active child I have every encountered. Absolutely full of energy, extremely physical, and always on the move. Yes, he’s only five, but even if he calms down a bit, movement and physicality are such a part of who he is that I have a hard time picturing him working an office job.
So, if you’re wired like my five year old, and are finding that working in an office isn’t for you, this article is for you.
Throughout this post, we’ll look at common reasons why people hate working in an office, what to do if you hate working in an office, and answer common questions around the topic.
- 1 Why Do I Hate Working In An Office?
- 2 I Hate Working in an Office: What to Do?
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
- 4 Conclusion
Why Do I Hate Working In An Office?
Included below is a list of some of the most common reasons that people hate working in an office. The list was not created from a formal survey or anything like that, it’s more from my anecdotal experience of talking to people and researching about the topic. That said, I think they all make sense as common reasons to hate the office life.
1. The Commute
A long commute is almost universally disliked and one of the most common reasons that people hate working in an office. In fact, a recent survey showed that 40% of Americans would rather clean their toilet than commute to an office.
2. The Restrictive Hours
9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. five days per week are the most common work day hours. When you’re working in an office, you’re generally expected to work those hours and your time at your desk is more easily monitored.
That can be difficult for young families that may need more flexibility with sick kids. It’s also tough for people that may not have a work load to fill eight hours per day every day and thus feel like they’re stuck at their office desk for no reason.
3. The Interruptions
Another thing that can be challenging about office work is more frequent interruptions. It’s much easier for someone in an office to do a “drive by” and stop by your desk for a quick quesiton.
The challenge with that is even though the question itself may be quick, it’s the context switch from what you’re doing that can make it difficult to get back into work. That is particularly true if you’re a maker vs. a manager, where your work requires long hours of focus and uninterrupted work. An interruption when you’re in the middle of a coding problem, for example, can break your concentration and take you quite some time to get back into what you were doing.
4. The Lack of Physical Activity
It’s been said that sitting is the new smoking. What that means is that extended periods of sitting increases your risk of chronic health problems, in a similar way as smoking.
Sitting at a desk in an office all day can be bad for your health. Additionally, if you’re wired like my five year old, and your natural desire is to be on the move all of the time, sitting in an office all day may feel miserable and unnatural to you.
5. The Office Politics
When you’re in the physical office, you hear more of the politics and relational dynamics that come with working in a corporate environment.
I’ll never forget hearing a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) on a call with a potential client, on which he was kind, polite, and charming. As soon as the call was over, he called another member of his team and called the potential client a “mother f*****” because of something that he did that the CRO didn’t like.
It’s these type of interactions that you have more exposure to, that many people simply don’t like.
I Hate Working in an Office: What to Do?
If you hate working in an office, the first thing to do is to determine whether you hate working in the physical office itself, or you hate working in the corporate environment more generally. Hating going into the office and hating corporate work in general are different things that are going to require different courses of action.
In order to process which of the two you don’t like, I would recommend journaling about the things that you don’t like about your current situation. If you find that the nature of things that bother you about your current work set up are things like the commute, the lack of flexibility, feeling bored being tied to a desk, etc., then it’s likely that you simply don’t like going into the office.
However, if the things that you don’t like about your job are more tied to feeling as if your work lacks meaning, you don’t like the pressure of the corporate environment, don’t like the politics, etc., then you may not like working in any type of corporate context.
There are different paths to address each of those feelings, and I’ll offer recommendations for both below.
What to Do If You Hate Working in an Office But Don’t Mind Corporate Work
1. Talk To Your Boss
The first thing to do if you hate working in the office itself, but like your current job is to have a conversation with your boss about the possibility of working remote. If you’re a key contributor, your employer will be motivated to try and keep you, and may be open to a fully remote or hybrid work set up to do so.
When having the conversation with your boss, try to emphasize benefits that both you and the company would gain as a result of the switch. For example, if you currently have a long commute, pitch how much more productive you would be by adding that time into your day. If there are personal benefits that you would get as well, such as making it easier to pick up your young kids from school, those would be appropriate to mention as well.
2. Apply to Remote Positions
If your firm isn’t open to letting you work remote, the next step would be go out and start replying for remote positions. While companies are increasingly calling people back to the office out of the pandemic, many companies have fully embraced remote work and there are lots of remote positions still available.
Even if you don’t want to leave your existing job, getting a job offer from a remote company gives you additional negotiating leverage to try and push your company to let you work remote.
What To Do If You Hate the Corporate World More Generally
If, after your journaling exercise, you come to the conclusion that it’s not just the physical office that you don’t like, but it’s the corporate world more generally, then your next steps are going to be different than having a conversation with your boss about working remote.
Ultimately, you’ll need to take a step back to take a look at what you really want out of your life and assess the type of work that fits into that.
At a high level, you want to start by establishing a vision for your life. And I mean thinking about the overall life that you want to build for yourself, not just work.
Once you have your vision for you life, then try and find tangible work paths that fit into that vision and that may be life giving to you.
I find Ikigai to be a wonderful framework on how to do just that. I do acknowledge some of the criticism of Ikigai, which is that it can be a bit too much of a “pie in the sky” framework for trying to identify the perfect work for you, which may not really exist. Some people say that it’s not grounded in reality and that you can’t always make money from things that you love, are good at, etc.
Even if that criticism is true, I find that going through the Ikigai exercise can open your mind up to career paths and possibilities that you may not have thought of before. And I would challenge you that in our internet era, there are more opportunities than ever to make money from things that you enjoy.
From there, once you have a sense of what some potential paths might look like for you, it’s time to go out and experiment and reflect on which of those feels right to you (again, I’ll recommend journaling as my personal favorite means of reflection).
I unpack that whole process and provide tools and references for each on the different stages in our article called I Have No Idea What To Do With My Life: How To Get Unstuck.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Quit My Job If I Hate It?
Your work is a huge portion of your life. Many people spend half of their waking hours for 40 years of their lives working.
So, if you hate what you’re doing for work then, yes, I would encourage you to quit and spend your time on something that you’re going to enjoy more.
However, I recommend that you quit thoughtfully and intentionally. It can be irresponsible to quit with nothing else lined up, as most people still need to generate an income, and it can make it more difficult for you to get your next job offer.
So, I would generally recommend not quitting your job until you have something else lined up. Or, if you’re going to quit before that, at least make sure that you have a solid plan for your next steps in place and ducks in a row financially to make that jump.
Can I Say No To Working in the Office?
If your employer sets a requirement for you and/or other employers to go into the office, you unfortunately do need to comply with that requirement.
Now, if you have a good reason for why you need to work from home, particularly one that is likely to enable your team to better hit its goals, you can certainly try and negotiate the ability to continue to work from home. However, at the end of the day, that will be up to your employer and they can make the final call.
Ultimately, the way that you say no to working in the office is going out and finding a job at a different company that will enable you to work remote.
What Are Good Jobs If You Hate the Office?
If you’re someone that knows that you don’t like sitting in an office or at a desk all day, there are variety of different career paths that you could pursue.
Here are some potential options if you hate working in an office:
- Airline pilot of flight attendant
- Law enforcement
- Home services
- Trades and/or skilled labor
If you hate working in an office, there are a variety of different paths that you can take to craft a working situation that works for you.
They key is knowing what you want and working to create that situation for yourself.